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Warm glow or activist? Activism in the charity sector and its impact on donations

Outstretched hands holding money and a note 'make a change'

What’s on offer?

In this one-hour online event, we will engage in a lively conversation around the emergence of activism in the charity sector and how it impacts supporters and donations

What’s it about?

Charity activism is at the forefront of many recent branding strategies in the third sector in the UK. This involves charitable organisation taking a stand on a divisive issue of public concern (e.g., climate change, racial injustice). Charities increasingly use actions and speech to publicly demonstrate support of or opposition to issues with the goal of challenging the status quo and driving systemic change (e.g. equality and fairness for all). In November 2020, Barnardo’s, a leading UK children’s charity pronounced its opposition to racial inequality and ‘white privilege’ and unveiled its new guide for parents on this issue. However, a huge backlash from supporters who claimed to stop donation immediately. Simultaneously, Barnardo’s action was publicly supported by CEOs from other charities. Thus, engaging in activism can be beneficial to the charity itself as well as to society, but it can equally be highly risky. In addition, the percentage of people that expect CEOs to take a lead on political change rather than waiting for governments to impose it has increased from 64% to 76% within the past year. We ask whether charity activism increases donations or instead alienates existing supporters?

Who’s leading the event?

Dr Zoe Lee, Cardiff University (UK) and Dr Amanda Spry, RMIT University (Australia) will share their preliminary findings on how supporters think and feel about charity activism and likelihood to give to charities in the future. The event will also involve industry panel discussion with charities and consultants to share their stories around opportunities and challenges in engaging in activism. Interactive polls and a Q&A session will allow for audience participation.

Open to

Everyone is welcome to attend this event.